The goal of Historical Conciliation is to use dialogue to produce empathy and understanding from hatred and anger, which in turn makes space for redefined relationships and more cooperative behavior. By engaging clashing groups in a deep, reflective dialogue process, Historical Conciliation aims to help people get “unstuck” from painful memories, acknowledge and move beyond the past, and work towards mutual respect and trust which can be strengthened by joint community action.
ICfC has developed an extensive dialogue practice that addresses the uneasy heritage of conflict through the training of facilitators, the mediation between divided communities, and participatory community development. ICfC teaches people to examine their personal and collective pasts with those whom they oppose. We believe the process of examining historical narrative, identity, and memory can be a preventive measure for future conflict.
There are five steps in ICfC’s method of Historical Conciliation:
- First, the conflict in question is assessed. It must be determined whether the situation has roots in historical or collective memory, and thus whether the approach of Historical Conciliation is appropriate.
- Second, the parties to the conflict in question must be identified. Which groups from the community will need to be at the table and who will continue to carry this work forward?
- Third, an intensive weekend workshop is held, where both sides’ hopes, fears, pains and concerns are explored.
- Fourth, over a period of several months, a series of eight to ten dialogues are held, where the groups come together regularly to do the work of sharing and listening. Trained facilitators guide the discussions.
- Lastly, once a level of narrative acknowledgement and understanding has been reached in the dialogue stage, the groups make a plan to take a joint action. This may be a youth project, an after-school program, a discussion forum or even plans to hold monthly dinners. Joint action solidifies relationships, builds trust, increases the probability of continued dialogue, and promotes lasting community change.
Once a project is completed, ICfC conducts an evaluation that contributes to organizational knowledge and helps to improve the process.
ICfC’s model entails training local community leaders in mediation techniques so that they can carry out the dialogue process and support and further future peacebuilding and healing. The Center conducts workshops in the US and abroad to train advanced mediators who then use these methods in their own projects in development and conciliation across the US and overseas.
ICfC succeeds when we enable our participants to see a broader range of options in relating to former adversaries. Our aim is to foster history without hate.